A counterculture movement is taking root in Fort Mill. A brand new Buy Nothing group has started near the historic downtown area.
The concept is simple: if you have something you don't want, you post it on the group's Facebook page and if someone wants it, they meet you to pick it up – for free. Money is never exchanged – ever. The result, volunteer organizer Audrey Brewer said, is a community of people who are connecting with each other on a whole new level.
“We all have excess of things that we could share with the people in our community, and that's how you build relationships with the people around you,” she said.
The Buy Nothing Project is an organization with chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 16 countries. Volunteer organizers use Facebook to set up local pages for swapping items. Its group motto is “Give where you live.” It closely follows a minimalist culture that's taking root worldwide.
“It's about not having anything in your home that doesn't spark joy for you or that isn't extremely useful,” Brewer said.
Other local Facebook groups, like Fort Mill Tega Cay Buy It, Sell It, Give It Away, have a similar intent, but Buy Nothing is strictly dedicated to passing along things for free.
Brewer, a Charlotte native, has lived in Fort Mill more than five years and recently moved to downtown. She said in the past few years she's been embracing the minimalist trend by making room for more living and less stuff. She started a Fort Mill Buy Nothing group when she saw no one else in town already had. Now, she hopes to get to better know her neighbors.
“We have neighbors that we don't know their names and I think it's a great way to start conversation within your communities,” she said.
Any item that can be useful to someone else can be posted. This can range from things like clothing or produce to services or even plants.
“It's a great way to find people in your area who have similar areas of interest to you,” Brewer said.
Anyone who lives within the group’s boundaries and has a Facbeook account can request to join the group. All posts are approved by the group's administrator before they're allowed to go public. That’s part of an effort to prevent trafficking of anything illegal. There are rules and guidelines each member is asked to follow, and, as with any internet group, safety always comes first.
“You have to be safe, because it's the Internet and you never know, but you meet somewhere public within your community and make those connections that way,” Brewer said.
The group goes against the grain when it comes to America's culture of consumerism and the message that buying things will make you happy, Brewer said.
“We sit and watch TV and every other commercial is for something that you need to buy, for some other food that you need to buy, for some toy you need to buy,” she said.
“It's so liberating to get clutter out of your life, and there's more room for living.”
The group's coverage area includes anyone living east of I-77, north of the Catawba River, and west of Sugar Creek. To request membership, visit tinyurl.com/bnpfortmillsc.
Katie Rutland: firstname.lastname@example.org